Noa and her friends were trapped on the side of a reservoir in northern India. A dam had been opened and the water was rising quick, cutting them off from their route. They climbed the banks and spotted police officers in the distance, approaching them for help. The cops decided to use the opportunity to search their bags. After extorting them for 100$ for the gram of weed they discovered, they guided them to safety on another route.
I was riding a Bird (electric scooter) yesterday when suddenly I fell into a Santa Monica police sting operation. They were swooping up riders in batches, collecting money from each person for not wearing helmets.
Why do we love firemen? They protect us from external threats. They are on our side.
Why do we have significantly less love for police? They also protect us from external threats. But somewhere along the way they took on the guise of protecting us from ourselves, which almost always entails money. Swooping up scooter riders at 200$ a pop is significantly more lucrative than chasing purse snatchers. Why did it take LAPD 30 years to catch a sloppy serial killer dropping clues like breadcrumbs, but a beer drinking tourist on Venice Beach will quickly find a dark police ATV ready to disrupt their vacation with a 250$ fine? The vehicle weaving between prostate sunbathers is clearly a bigger danger than the 6 pack. But it never was about safety.
This "protecting us from ourselves" routine has been a boon for law enforcement for a long time. During the 13 years of alcohol prohibition they seized on the opportunity to take off-the-books cuts of the money. Legalization of alcohol in 1933 was disastrous to their bottom line. They needed new income streams under the same pretense. Today police unions and prison unions have joined hands to lobby hard against legalization of marijuana. Portugal, which took the bold step of decriminalizing all drugs, has provided a model for the entire world on how to handle the subject. 17 years later we pretend the incredibly successful policy doesn't exist. American law enforcement doesn't have a more humane, effective, or compassionate idea. They have a more profitable one.
Uber, Lyft, Lime, and Bird are also squeezing police department margins. DUIs and traffic violation profits dipping to unexpected lows. New policy is created to fill the coffers back up. Unsurprisingly these are formed under the same sham of protecting a citizen from herself.
This entire enterprise is as disastrous for individual police officers as it is for citizens. Wouldn't they love to be embraced by the public the way firemen are? Loved in the old school sheriff, Andy Griffith kind of way? Of course they would. Deep down those SMPD cops know that most adults understand helmet safety just fine, and are assuming a comfortable level of risk. The same level of risk they would assume by going skydiving, white water rafting, or stepping on the top rung of a ladder. Any one of these police officers would find it ludicrous if a citizen charged them 200$ for cutting an apple with the knife directed towards their hand. It's risky, but is it not their body to risk?
I'm Jonathan Legg
The road has been my greatest teacher.. challenging stagnant beliefs, disarming prejudices, and developing understanding of others. I hope the content on this blog will bring a sliver of that juju to you.